Dinner is Served

Dinner is Served

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Dinner is Served

I ran into the kitchen to perform some last minute preparations for the night’s joyous festivities. I could smell the inviting aroma of the freshly smoked salmon which I had smothered in a light cabernet sauce and topped with dill to complete the presentation. I must admit that I was quite nervous in regards to the night that lay ahead. I quickly set the table because dinner was to be served in fifteen minutes. I could see the look of anxiety on my face through the reflection of the recently polished silver and stemware. I decided that Ben and Bill would sit across the table from Tim and myself. I knew I was taking a chance inviting the three of them back to my home considering what had happened the last time, but I was in the mood to engage myself into some stimulating conversation. The doorbell rang as I was pouring the last of the Pinot Grigio and my nervousness quickly ceased the moment that I opened the door. I said a little prayer that the night would go smoothly and proceeded to twist the doorknob, opening myself to the world of luddites and fetishists.

Bill Henderson was the first to arrive. He walked into my house with his head held high and placed his cane next to his seat. Bill was in his late 60s and was sure to add his own spice into the dinner party. I asked to take his knee length, brown suede jacket but he looked at me and mumbled, “I think that I can do it myself. You do realize that I can sufficiently run my life without an absurd amount of help that others seem to need.” "I'm sorry." I said. "I just thought it might be easier for me to take it.""That seems to be the only thing that concerns you people these days! Why must everything be so easy? I actually enjoy taking my coat and putting it behind my chair like the good old days."

His breath permeated the smell of aged whiskey throughout the dining room. I led him to his predetermined seat and pushed start on the CD Player. He reached for his glass of wine as Beethoven’s String Quartet in C sharp minor gently entered the room.

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I stood there in an awkward silence not knowing what to discuss with the obviously bitter gentlemen, but I was quickly saved by the ringing of the doorbell.

Tim Barkow was the next to arrive. I motioned to shake his hand and invite him in, but I quickly realized that his hands were occupied by a cell phone in the left hand and a palm pilot in the right. Tim was in his late twenties and had already achieved much success with his articles in major PC magazines and his position at Microsoft. He was wearing all black with sleak armani eyeglasses.

"Would you like anything to drink to start the night off?", I asked.

"Yes. I'll take a Caffé Laté with no foam and a pinch of cinnamon on top, if it wouldn't be too much trouble."

"Actually," I replied, "I only have soda and wine. Would you like some water?"

"Is it bottled?" he said with his nose pointed upward.

"No, I'm sorry I don't have bottle water. Will tap be all right?"

"Nevermind," he said," I wasn't that thirsty anyway."

I heard the doorbell ring which meant that my final guest had arrived. I could only hope that this greeting at the door would go over more smoothly than the last two. Maybe I was just a bad host.

Ben Lukey was the last to arrive. I reached out to shake his hand when I was pulled outside by the force of his hug. He proceeded to abruptly pat my back as if we were childhood friends that hadn't seen each other in years.

"How are you doing Mike?" he asked.

"Just fine Ben. How are the kids doing?"

"Oh they're great! Little Bobby just started kindergarten. They are teaching him how to write and I couldn't be more proud. With all of this technology I'm sure he'll be learning how to type next week."

Ben was wearing a pair of jeans and his Manchester United jersey. Ben lives in England most of the year but comes back to the states to visit every once in a while. We are constantly having great discussion on everything from politics to the downfall of the game of soccer with the American Major League Soccer. I went and got Ben a beer as he went to occupy the last seat. With everyone and everything now in place, it was time to eat and enjoy the great night that lay ahead.

I brought out the food and layed each plate in front of my guests and watched as their eyes groaned with excitement. We all began to eat and everyone complimented me on my delicious creation.

"Did you make these mashed potatoes from scratch?", Bill asked.

"Well," I said, "I did use fresh potatoes, but I just threw them into a new gadget that I

purchased and it chops and whips up the potatoes in under 3 minutes."

That was the beginning of the end as far as a nice relaxing dinner was concerned.The discussion over my preparation of mashed potatoes sparked a heated debate that lasted the rest of the night. Each man seemed to have transformed the topic of mashed potatoes into an exhausting debate about technology as a whole. I was torn back and forth between the arguments presented regarding this matter and was shocked to learn of the authors' reasoning and methods for getting their point across. Later in the night, the culmination of the never ending debates resulted in an act that still makes me shake my head in disgust.

Bill Henderson was very quick to jump down my throat in regards to my methods of potato preparation. He stood right up on his pedastal and began to preach the life of luddite and why his method of making potatoes would truly satisfy the soul. He took a large sip of his wine and said, "The only way to make potatoes is by hand. One must use their knuckles to smash the potatoes down and acquire a true appreciation for what one is making. If we all let technology take over the small chores in life, such as making mashed potatoes, then what are we living for. Of course it is true that your food processor would create mashed potatoes in a fraction of the time but there are certain ingredients that would not be added." Bill slowly got up from his chair and proceeded to declare his stand on the issue. "The blood, sweat and tears of your labor that is added to this feast are ingredients that can not be bought in the form of a shiny, new appliance. I say that you better march into that kitchen and take a stand against that food processor and throw it away. It will only bring you headache and high electric bills. Look down at your two hands because they will never let you down and they can always get the job done correctly." Bill sat down and took one last sip of his wine. He then sat back in his chair and waited for the criticism for he was used to this routine.

Before Bill could even finish his last bit of Pinot Grigio, Ted interjected with his own thoughts on the subject of mashed potatoes. At this point, I was starting to catch on to the fact that these men didn't just have potatoes on their mind. Ted stated, "I'm very proud of you Mike for utilizing the tools around you in order to make this delicious meal. What good would life be if we weren't constantly searching for a better way to do everyday activities? I don't understand why anyone would make mashed potatoes by hand if there was a food processor within arms reach. Using this new form of technology allows you to finish things such as mashed potatoes much quicker thereby enabling you to partake in the important things in life such as spending time with your family and enjoying other qualities that technology brings. I'm sure you're thankful that technology has allowed you to go visit your family in California. I guarantee that I'd never hear you complain about something as wonderful as that." After he spoke, Ted glared at Bill with a condescending look and I could tell the tension in the room needed to be released. Luckily Ben came to my rescue.

Ben has always been great when it comes to conflict. He is an English soccer fan so he knows a thing or two about ending silly quarrels. He interjected with his thoughts on the subject and tried to reach a common ground with the two authors. "I understand where each of you are coming from. I used feel like you, Bill, in that I was born during a time when all mashed potatoes were made by hand and no other option existed. That is why I was so torn when technology brought about a new way of making this delicious food. I didn't want to abandon my old way of making potatoes because then I felt I was losing the appreciation for the finished product. I didn't want to disappoint my mother who had taught me the way in which things were done, but I soon realized that denying technological advances was holding me back. Ted, you have to understand where me and Bill are coming from. We never had these options and you are too young to fully understand them. People like Bill and I just worry that you will never earn a true appreciation for hand made mashed potatoes because it has never been necessary for you to operate in that way. Bill you must understand that if we stay close minded and try to block out technology as a whole, then the only people we are hurting are ourselves. Ted, you must learn to appreciate the conveniences that have come to you in regards to making mashed potatoes and never lose focus of what is really important in life. Overall gentlemen, I have learned that the perfect mashed potatoes are made with a balance of manual preparation and technological advance." I was truly touched by Ben's speech and sat reflecting on his beautiful words. My contemplation was suddenly interrupted when a large mound of potatoes came hurling toward my head. Bill Henderson, Ben Lukey, Ted Barkow and myself were now engaged in a full blown food fight!

Overall, I feel that Ben Lukey had the best points. He was able to come to a solid conclusion and express his beliefs in a respectful and completely unbiased manner. He seemed to be the only one that was willing to compromise in any sense and that made his argument much more sound and valid for me. I do agree with points that the other two had made but I just felt that they were unable to express it coherently and presented their arguments in a very condescending manner. Although Lukey is from England, he seemed to fully comprehend the American lifestyle of living in technological excess and how that can often take away from the joy of everday events.

Bill and Ted seemed to try and persuade each other rather than including Ben and myself in their discussions which quickly lost my attention. They were more concerned with putting each other down rather than making valid points toward their way of making mashed potatoes. I found this to be congruent with their article "Luddite vs. Fetishist". They both had solid arguments yet their execution left nothing to be desired. I also felt that they had poor attitudes coming into the dinner. Ben was the only one who greeted me properly and he was the only one who's company I rather enjoyed.

Even though they were discussing mashed potatoes, I felt that Ben Lukey put it best when he said, "I have learned that the perfect mashed potatoes are made with a balance of manual preparation and technological advance." This is relevent to much more than the world of mashed potatoes. Essentially Ben was admitting to having been a former Luddite and although he may still be a Luddite, he is a new Luddite that understands the advantages of technology and the doors that it is able to swing open.Ben's understanding, focus, and execution of his argument really impressed me and may have swayed me towards a new Luddite. I just wish I didn't have to be covered in mashed potatoes to come to this conclusion.

When I was given this assignment, I was not sure what topic to pursue. I remember how intrigued I was by the one article Luddite vs. Fetishist that we read at the beginning of this course. I realized what an interesting dinner it would be to have two completely opposed views sitting right across from each other, only separated by the salt and pepper shakers. In order to be an effective dinner I realized that there needed to be someone who stood in the middle ground so that I could truly be influenced at the table by these three separate realms of technological influence.

While beginning to prepare the dinner portion of the paper, I was unable to begin without a bias. For a while, I have been leading towards the Luddite view of technology. I have always believed that one should never lose touch with the simple and tedious way of doing things because one then acquires a greater appreciation for the finished product. I looked for sources involving the advantages of Luddites and I was therefore going to stack the dinner table with more Luddites in an effort to overpower and diminish the arguments of the Fetishists. All I had to do was go back to that original article concerning "Luddites vs. Fetishists" to get my inspiration for the dinner and to lose a little bit of my bias once I concentrated on the words of Tim Barkow.

I needed very few articles to understand the issue and to sway my thoughts regarding the issue at hand. I decided to disguise the issue of technology and cleverly utilize mashed potatoes as a symbol of technology. I felt that this was a more realistic look into what might happen if these three were to greet each other at the dinner table. The mashed potato symbolism seemed to work well with the theme of the paper while allowing me to change my position slightly on the subject of Luddite vs. Fetishist. Once I had Ben join the dinner party, he was able to change my views. I found several articles that Ben wrote in regards to the "new Luddites". These "new Luddites" are members of a dis-organisation. That means no distant leadership, no formal membership, no AGMs and no subs. If you agree with their aims, you are welcome. I felt this to be very interesting and quite contrary to the exclusiveness of Bill Henderson and his "old school" Luddites.

I now do truly believe that in order to utilize technology to the fullest, a compromise must be made between the Luddites and Fetishists. The Fetishists need to develop an understanding and appreciation for doing things in a more time consuming and less technologically influenced manner. At the same time, Luddites must realize that technology has the power to create opportunities and not all technology needs to be shut out. I do wish that I was actually at this dinner party, not only for the delicious food that I prepared but also to speak with these gentlemen because I find this topic so fascinating. This is a lifelong debate that I doubt will ever be solved but as long as one never forgets to listen to the other side, there will be plenty of bowls of mashed potatoes for years to come.
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